In this Celebrity Travel Addicts Q&A with Sofie Couwenbergh of Wonderful Wanderings we learn how this blogging Belgian started a life of travel while managing to help us all experience her home country through her eyes. Sofie’s extensive insider guides to different destinations around Belgium are a fantastic resource for anybody planning to travel there, or for those just curious to know what there’s to see and do (and eat). Here’s a bit about Sofie, her #Anydaysgood philosophy, and where we can expect to find her next!
How did your passion for travel get started?
My parents have always taken me and my little brother traveling, but I think I really got bitten by the bug when I was twelve and my dad took me on a two-day trip to London. It was my first city trip as a teenager and I’ve been returning to the city ever since.
How many days/weeks are you traveling in any given year? What are the types of places do you like to visit?
That’s something people always ask me and I literally have no idea. There are months when I travel to three different countries and other months where I don’t leave Belgium. It highly depends on the work I get, opportunities to visit friends and conference I want to attend.
I’m a city gal. I love wandering through cities and just taking in the vibe. Trying out local food hotspots, checking out the architecture… I prefer those things to going to museums, for example.
That being said, it’s not that I don’t like being outdoors. I love learning about local culture in the countryside but I’m just not the kind of person that will go hiking for days at an end just to go hiking.
What is it that you want audiences to gain/ learn from your work?
I’m someone with a very practical mindset and so I want to give my audience the things I’m looking for when I plan a trip: information on what to do, which things are worth making a detour for, where to grab a coffee and how to make the most of your time somewhere.
I don’t need my audience to follow me because they’re interested in me, I’d like them to follow me because they know WonderfulWanderings.com is where they can find information about their next destination… or inspiration for what that destination should be.
Name your top three destinations you’ve traveled?
Give us your ‘Top 5’ list for one of these destinations, like a mini-guide or to-do list of sorts
While most people think of Hollywood when you mention Los Angeles, there’s so much more to see and do in the county. I highly recommend visiting The Getty Center. While I mentioned previously that I’m not that big on museums, I loved this one because the collections are just so diverse and its location on top of a mountain offers great views of the city.
You can also get great views from Runyon Canyon park. I’ve read that a lot of celebrities go there to walk their dogs or work out, but I’m afraid I haven’t seen – or recognized – anyone when I was there.
For shopping, I liked Santa Monica. It has the big retail stores along 3rd Street Promenade but if you go into a few smaller streets you can also find some cool boutiques.
The Farmers Market near The Grove in West Hollywood is a fun place to grab a bite, especially when there’s a band playing, and if you’re a dance lover like me you need to head to either Millennium, Debbie Reynolds or Movement Lifestyle for some of the best hip hop classes in the country.
How many countries have you visited so far?
I actually don’t keep count, so give me a moment while I check my scratch map. *Goes to have a look.* 20. I really don’t care as I often revisit the same countries. Living in the center of Europe makes it so easy to make short trips to neighboring countries. I’ve been to Germany and the Netherlands countless of times, for example, and there’s still so much I haven’t seen there.
Your top three favorite cuisines?
That’s tough! I’d say Mexican, Greek and Bulgarian (except for all the organs).
Favorite restaurant in the world?
DOP in Porto! Best meal I’ve ever had.
Your favorite travel movie?
I don’t really have one. I haven’t even seen or read Eat, Pray, Love 😀
Favorite international airport?
Hm, Brussels because it’s nice and small or Schiphol because of the plugs everywhere 😀
City with the friendliest people?
Your favorite traveling companion?
My boyfriend or my friend Amanda from MarocMama.com
Best way you kill time while traveling?
Reading an ebook on my Kindle.
What is the most exotic place your career has taken you?
Sri Lanka, though the trip itself wasn’t really exotic as it was a bit over-organized.
Your best bit of travel advice for someone who is about to embark on a life of travel?
Do it your way. Yes, you can be nomadic, but you might be miserable moving around all the time. And sure, you can combine travel with a home base, but you’ll need to find a way to pay for both.
Over the last couple of years it’s become clear that there are a ton of people living “a life of travel” and that they’re all doing it in your own way. I’d recommend to go out and try things. Find what works for you and don’t feel bad if it isn’t the same thing as what’s working for one of the people you set as an example, if you have someone like that.
What are 4 things you could never travel without?
My smartphone, my passport, my credit card and paper tissues.
Without being so practical: lip balm (I’m addicted), tea (you can never be sure there’s some at the hotel!), food (you don’t want me to get hangry) and paper tissues (I have allergies).
What is your ultimate dream destination?
I don’t have a dream destination, but I do have a dream thing I want to do and that’s seeing whales in the wild. I think if I could see do that tomorrow, I’d die happily. I’d rather not, of course, but you get the point.
I’m actually on a mission this year to accomplish 30 of my travel dreams while I’m 30 (not before!) and inspire my readers to go after their travel dreams as well. The project’s called #Anydaysgood and I’ve already checked some items off of my list!
We see you were just in Stockholm. What is your #1 tip for someone traveling to the Swedish capital?
Don’t exchange money. You can pay with debit or credit card everywhere. I wasn’t too sure about that and withdrew a bunch of Swedish Crones to then not use them at all.
Your favorite travel quote?
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your Babance you must keep moving.” from Albert Einstein. It’s on my list of 365 awesome travel quotes for a year full of travel motivation 🙂
Where to next?
Bruges! That’s before this interview will get published, though. I’ll also be traveling to Austria (all over the place), Stockholm (again) and the French Provence in June.
Sofie is a Belgium-based full-time travel blogger and copywriter. On her blog WonderfulWanderings.com she focuses on cultural, culinary and city travel. She doesn’t function without tea and is slightly addicted to Facebook, but you can also connect with her on Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and Twitter.